Tennessee ups the NIL ante on quarterbacks

David Whitley
The Gainesville Sun

Here’s a riddle only football fans over 50 might get:

What’s the difference between Steve Austin and Nico Iamaleava?

Two million dollars.

Austin was “The Six Million Dollar Man,” in the 1970s TV show. Lee Majors played an Air Force pilot injured in a test flight.

His shattered body was replaced with bionic parts that gave him superhuman strength, speed, vision and enough charm to talk Farrah Fawcett into marrying him.

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The top-secret project cost the U.S. government $6 million. The tab on Tennessee’s top-secret project is $8 million.

That’s how much the school’s “collective” is supposedly paying Iamaleava to sign with the Volunteers. You can almost hear Josh Heupel’s voice in the intro.

“Gentlemen, we can rebuild this program. We have the technology. We have the capability to buy the SEC’s first bionic NIL quarterback.”

Nobody's confirmed it, but it’s increasingly obvious that quarterback is Iamaleava.

The Athletic reported last month that an unnamed recruit had signed such an NIL contract with an unnamed school. Iamaleava (pronounced “I am making a lotta moolah”) immediately became the No. 1 suspect.

“No comment,” his father told reporters this past weekend

The Iamaleavas had traveled from their home in Long Beach, California, to Knoxville for Tennessee’s spring game. Nico also made an appearance at an ice cream shop, where he undoubtedly picked up more than a free triple-dip cone for his effort

Good for him. America’s free market economy is based on supply and demand.

The demand for 5-star QBs far outstrips the supply. If Tennessee football fans want to pool $8 million for a QB, have at it.

That said, the thought of a high school junior getting $8 million to play football is a sure sign civilization has come unglued and Armageddon is just around the corner.

Whatever your view, we now live in an NIL world. If you’re a fan, you might want to contact your local collective and have your credit card number handy. It’s going to take a lot more than an ice cream cone to impress recruits….

Stud of the Week: Florida basketball coach Todd Golden, for persuading center Colin Castleton to return for one more season. Castleton should be worth 1.8 Iamaleavas to the Gators.

Stud II: Tiger Woods. He shot 78-78 on the weekend, but just making the cut at the Masters showed that Woods is truly bionic.

Stud III: Kevin Na for five-putting the 16th green at Augusta National. Millions of three-putt specialists (ahem) will never feel quite as embarrassed….

Dud of the Week: Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino, who was suspended 80 games for testing positive for the PED Clomiphene. Severino said he took the drug for infertility issues. Clomiphene is a female infertility drug that stimulates ovulation.

Dud II: The Orlando Magic, for finishing 22-60 in Year XVII of their rebuilding project. Men really will be getting pregnant before the Magic get back to the playoffs….

Speaking of the NBA, kudos to ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins for speaking on behalf of millions of Americans concerning his network’s fixation with the team that finished 11th in the Western Conference.

“I’m just sick of the Lakers,” he said. “I don’t wanna talk about LeBron, I don’t wanna talk about Russ, I don’t wanna talk about Anthony Davis, I think we’re all, the world is tired of talking about them.”…

The Dodgers’ Opening Day roster had combined salaries of $277.2 million. The Orioles’ Opening Day team salary was $30.2 million. That means 13 MLB players and Texas A&M’s defensive line will make more this year than Baltimore’s entire team….

Iamaleava II: I’m not saying he’s definitely the guy, but the NIL contract calls for the unnamed recruit to be paid $350,000 “almost immediately,” $2 million a year when he’s on campus and the $100,000 bonus that Peyton Manning never claimed for beating Florida….

Headline of the Week from The Sun: “UFOs had sexual encounters with witnesses and left one woman pregnant, bombshell Pentagon docs wildly claim.” In related news, Deshaun Watson has denied reports he ever piloted a UFO, much less got a massage from a Martian….

Programming Update: ESPN has canceled its coverage of the NBA Playoffs in order to show LeBron James interviewing candidates for the Lakers head coaching job….

Given inflation, a Six Million Dollar Man would now cost $36.5 million to build. That means the U.S. government would get an entire Steve Austin for $7 million less than the Yankees are paying Max Scherzer this season….

More Money Madness: Masters champ Scottie Schefler has already made $10,098,014 this season. Rates vary, but caddies often get 10% of a player’s winnings. With $1,009,801, Ted Scott would currently rank 71st on the player money list. He also would not have five-putted a hole….

This Just In: Pedro Severino has announced he’s expecting a girl. He said the baby should arrive next January, at which time Severino plans to retire from baseball and join the Penn women’s swimming team….

The Braves are selling a $151 Wagyu beef hamburger this year. It comes on an Irish-buttered brioche bun and is topped with “cage-free pan-fried eggs, gold-leaf-wrapped Hudson Valley foie gras, grilled cold-water lobster tail, Bibb lettuce, Tillamook cheddar cheese and truffle aioli.”

If you order the burger, you can also buy a replica of the Braves World Series championship ring for $25,000.

Not to be outdone, the Orioles are offering a 99-cent hotdog with cage free mustard. If you buy it, they’ll throw in a starting shortstop for $19.95….

That’s about all the space we have for this week’s Whitley’s Believe It or Not. We’ll try again next week unless I am abducted by a UFO and have to go on maternity leave.

— David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at And follow him on Twitter: @DavidEWhitley.